Any time I leave for any reason, I usually leave the kids a list of things to do while mom is gone. The reason is two-fold. First, it’s always frustrating to come home and find that the house has gone backward and things are messier than when you left. But also, if it works as it should, it keeps the kids focused on their chore, rather than getting into scrapes with each other. And, yes, that happens at our house. Just the other day I came home to hear the woes of a couple of the kids who’d gotten into an argument with one another. One went to turn the TV off on the other, another shoved the ottoman forward to stop her in her path, and unfortunately, instead it tripped her and sent her flying into a low table, only inches from my son’s larger television. Phew! Close one! But it happened because no one was doing what was on their list and they were sitting around watching television instead.
Everyone knows that having a plan is always better than having nothing. Ask anyone who starts a business. Most businesses that fail are said to have never had a business plan in the first place. Just like without a map, it’s often hard to know where you’re going and how to get there. We need a plan, we need a direction. I like when I have a list to check off too. I like when I know exactly what is expected of me and that there is a set path to getting it done.
The thought of always having an assignment and knowing what to do for the rest of my life would be very reassuring! No guess work! Well, recently it seems my studies have taken me to I Peter 2 over and over again. Whether it’s the one I lead, or the one I attend to, or even my own study at home, it seems lately, I have read I Peter 2:1-4 over and over and over. So last night I decided to back up. I decided to go back to 1 Peter 1 and start from the beginning. And right off the bat, I was struck by a thought that really never occurred to me before. I read it in the NIV to start and then again in a paraphrased version called The Message. Check out the versions:
From The Message: “I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!” I Peter 1:1-2
From the NIV: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” I Peter 1:1-2
I love how The Message describes Peter as on assignment by Jesus! I had to look up in numerous places the definition of apostle to learn where this claim of assignment came from. An apostle was someone who was given a specific job, in this case to spread the gospel. Even Jesus was referred to as an apostle in Hebrews 3:1. He was sent by the Father with a specific assignment…to save the world!
What a cool thought…on assignment from Jesus. I want to be able to say I have truly been assigned a job by Jesus! I can think of tremendous benefits by having such an assignment. Like my kids, when I leave a list for them, I have to think I am far less likely to stray into wasted time and wasted efforts if I’m focused on an assignment. I love the idea of knowing what is expected of me. It makes achieving it possible. The other idea that is encouraging to me is knowing that no one gives someone an assignment that they don’t think they can complete. If Peter was on an assignment, an apostle, for Jesus Christ, Jesus had full confidence that Peter could complete the assignment or He wouldn’t have given it to him.
We all need an assignment. Truthfully, we have already been given lots of them:
“Seek first the Kingdom of God…” Matthew 6:33
“Love one another…..” John 13:34
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel…” Mark 16:15
The list is huge! Peter’s assignment was quite specific. It’s easy to think, all those other assignments for us from Jesus are broad, how would I know what my specific assignment is? I really believe when we are in the word, when we pray, and spend time with God, we’ll know what our specific assignment is. It’ll be a tug in your heart, it’ll likely put your spiritual gifts to work, it’ll either present itself, or when you present it to someone else, you’ll feel confirmed in knowing what that you have an assignment that you are fully able to complete. If you don’t know your assignment, if you’re waiting….take it to Him and ask. Because if you start with all the directions He’s already given, “seeking first the Kingdom of God, loving one another, going into the world and sharing the news of the Gospel” your specific assignment will likely come into view very quickly! And now….I’m off to give the kids their assignments for the day!